You're in a major American city and need to get somewhere. You don't have a car, and public transportation won't help, so you're going to take a taxi -- but why stand at the curb and try to hail a passing cab when you can use an app on your smartphone to request a ride from a non-professional driver in their own car? These alternate taxi services have become very popular over the last year. Why?
I talked it over with Geoffrey Fowler, personal technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal, who compared three of these services -- Uber, Lyft, and Sidecar. We discussed the difference in cost, the safety issue, and the controversial "surge pricing" (in which prices can go way up at rush hour).